The Best Work You May Never See: Novant Health's "Boxing"
Lieven Van Baelen of Knucklehead directed this Novant Health spot for BBDO Atlanta, with visual effects from MPC New York.
Titled “Boxing,” the commercial is a visual allegory depicting a woman’s battle against cancer. When we first see the fighter – tattooed, ripped and gripped with a look of steely determination – she’s in a ring by herself, accompanied only by the referee. The bell sounds and she circles an unseen opponent, who quickly starts to exact a toll.
Part way through, at the start of a new round, we see her wearing a scarf to cover her head, having lost her hair during chemotherapy. Her face and body are battered. She’s losing the fight and falls to the mat. The ref begins to count her out but her trainer encourages her to keep on fighting. She comes back with renewed strength and delivers fierce body blows to cancer, her invisible opponent, which falls as the ref declares a KO. We match cut to our fighter, now dressed in street clothes in the hallway of a Novant Health facility. Her arm is raised in triumph and she clasps hands with her trainer, who was her Novant Health nurse all along.
MPC’s team, led by VFX supervisor Alex Lovejoy and lead Flame artist Marcus Wood, added layers of nuance and detail which made the shots more believable as well as impactful. The fight scene effects, which were captured in camera, were accomplished with the use of an air gun that made the fighter’s skin ripple as if she was actually being punched. Beads of sweat and other elements were added in post at MPC, whose artists also performed cleanup on the fighter’s tattoos and gloves. To capture the most realistic performance the woman was hitting an actual punching bag, which was removed from several shots.
“Boxing” was edited by Jeff Jay of Hero Post. Colorist was Billy Gabor of Company 3, Atlanta.
Client Novant Health Agency BBDO, Atlanta Will Boudreau, EVP, chief creative officer; Mike Hanley, creative director; Scott Biear, associate creative director; Hayley Efird, art director; Emily Miller, copywriter; Jenny Russo Novak, executive producer. Production Knucklehead Lieven Van Baelen, director; Cathleen Kisich, Tim Katz, exec producers. Editorial Hero Post Jeff Jay, editor; Molly Baroco, exec producer; Britt Dunn, assistant editor. VFX MPC Justin Brukman, managing director; Camila De Biaggi, exec producer; Matthew Loranger, sr. producer; Alex Lovejoy, VFX supervisor; Marcus Wood, Amanda Amalfi, Rob Walker, Flame; Tobey Lindback, 2D compositor. Postproduction Company 3, Atlanta Billy Gabor, colorist